Posted on Mon, 29 Feb, 2016
Posted by Peter


Here are our highlights from the Bristol Hi-Fi Show 2016. We can’t believe another year has come and gone since the last one! On the plus side however, this does mean we have a good memory for the show from 2015 and if there are a few things to highlight in comparison, 2016 has to be the year the rooms were most effectively presented. As always, there was a good selection of brand new products being launched at the show, alongside many recent additions to product ranges that were being presented “in show” for the first time.

As always, Bristol is a great venue and although we went down on Sunday afternoon, it was still busy…

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So, in alphabetical order, here are our highlights and photos from Bristol HiFi Show 2016..

Acoustic Research

Their impressive AR M2 high res portable player was on demo with a selection of headphones. We’re very familiar with this portable player now and have it on demo in our showroom alongside the new FiiO X7 and several others.

Acoustic Energy

Sporting a position close to front of show, Acoustic Energy had their latest £199 soundbar on demo alongside the model that will replace the current Aego M system (which we currently have on sale), alongside other models from the current Acoustic Energy range.

Arcam

The new Solo Movie system was on display and demo alongside other Arcam hi-fi separates in their main display area, but the real impression was made in the demo room where Arcam had their latest AVR850 AV Receiver on demo alongside many of their power amps bridged with KEF’s 7.1 Reference speaker package and an Epson laser projector. This looked and sounded FANTASTIC!

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Atacama

We couldn’t believe how many of Atacama’s beautiful stands were on display, including the popular Bamboo 60-40 hi-fi racks and matching Moseco speaker stands. Several new models coming soon were also on display in this area, including a new AV rack from Apollo.

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Audiolab

We’re impressed to see the unveiling of Audiolab’s new 8300N streamer and 8300XP power amplifier which will be added to the Audiolab 8300 range very soon. There’s no announcement on pricing yet, but we understand they’ll be due mid to late spring. Audiolab also had their new M-One all in one system on display (not pictured, also due soon) as well as a demo area for the latest and greatest version of the popular M-DAC, the new M-DAC+.

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Audio Technica

In one of the main open areas, Audio Technica had created a beautiful display for their latest, re-vamped range of hi-fi headphones. The display and demo bar also featured the latest high end HA5050H reference headphone amplifier – we had a listen and were blown away by the design and sound of this amplifier – expect to see one in our showroom very soon!

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Chord Company

Sporting their usual spot close to the front of the show, Chord had their range of interconnects and speaker cables on display (with a separate demo room upstairs). Highlights included the display of Chord Signature cables and flagship Chord Sarum cables, along with other beautifully made cables on display, including the latest Chord Epic digital cable.

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Creek & Epos

Creek Audio had their latest range of hi-fi separates on demo including the popular 50A and 100A integrated amplifiers (with an open top amp on display), alongside the latest K-series range of Epos speakers.

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Cyrus

This room was busy and unfortunately we only managed to get this one quick photo between demos, but Cyrus had their Signature range on demo including the new Signature phono stage and it  sounded fantastic, as it usually does! The Cyrus range has changed a lot recently with more focus on a smaller range of products, most of which we have on demonstration in our showroom. Cyrus are also offering a fantastic 50% off CD upgrades promotion currently which is proving an incredibly popular way to upgrade without needing to invest in new equipment.

Dali

One of our favourite speaker brands, Dali had their new Opticon speaker range proudly on demonstration. If you haven’t seen or heard these yet, they sit between the popular Zensor range, and higher end Rubicon range.

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Elipson

The full range of Elipson products were on display (apart from the sound tree, which wouldn’t quite have fitted in the room!) alongside Elipson’s new range of turntables.

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Goldring & Grado

The full range of Grado headphones on display (presented very similarly to how we show them off in store albeit on some impressively coloured glass heads) and in a show first, Goldring had one of their engineers making cartridges live, which was fascinating to see. We had a good chat with him and understand there are only 2 people who make Goldring cartridges this way and that these are still made by hand like this in the UK, which is quite extraordinary when you consider the Goldring range is offered for very real world prices. We were impressed!

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Harbeth

These guys were showing on their range of traditional hi-fi speakers alongside this beautiful pre amplifier. Our more “traditional” range of hi-fi speakers includes Stirling Broadcast currently, but we don’t sell Harbeth.. would you like to see these on demo in our showroom?

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Icon Audio

Icon had their full range of integrated valve amplifiers and other hi-fi valve amps were on display with a sweet sounding system  on demo. Also in view here are some of Icon’s bookshelf speakers designed specifically for valve amplifiers with a very high sensitivity. We’ve long been a fan of the MFV range and will be selling this new model displayed soon.

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KEF

This room has to go down as best presented in show? Rather than using pull up banners and the like, KEF had actually created a KEF room within a room for their demonstrations. Alongside displays for their media product (Muu bluetooth speaker, M100 earphones, M400 headphones, and Egg bluetooth speakers), they had a wall displaying KEF history and some awesome photo displays for the hi-fi speaker ranges, all of which were on display, right upto the KEF Blade speakers. For more KEF history, check out the KEF book (which is still available but we understand won’t have another print run so will be out of print soon).

We stopped in for a listen to three systems, one at around £2500 featuring LS50, one for around £4500 featuring R700 and a high end system featuring the Reference 3 Foundry Edition in white, played on sources from streaming DSD files to vinyl, all of which sounded fantastic. Indeed, its probably the best we’ve ever heard R700, so time to reconsider what cables and electronics we have them on demo with in store as they’ve always been a sweet spot special speaker in the range!

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Mission

The new “LX” range of budget hi-fi loudspeakers is the showcase this year. A replacement for “MX”, the range includes LX1 bookshelf speakers (on demonstration in the photo) alongside floorstanding models and more to be announced. This was one of the most impressive sounding rooms in the show for us, as these sound great and rock and roll for a very low price point. Mission have done it again! LX speakers will be available on our website soon…

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Naim Audio

Naim Audio had their new Naim, Mu-So Qb system on demo alongside the larger Mu-So and various models from the Uniti hi-fi range on demo with Focal headphones. We can’t wait to get our hands on Mu-So Qb when these arrive early March, especially with the optional coloured grilles it looks and sounds fantastic (and Naim quality all for only £595).

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Nordost

Various Nordost accessories were on display including Sort Kones and jumper cables, as well as purple flare cables on display and in use in the Nordost demo room. We’ve recently revised the Nordost range on our website to include several new cables and accessories.

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Ortofon

Ortofon had a good range of their entry level 2M cartridges and Quintet cartridges on display, being demonstrated on the new Pro-Ject Xperience SB DC with S-Shape arm. We’re big fans of the “original” SB DC turntable and this S-shape design takes everything that’s great about this turntable and adds a nod to tradition with this silver tonearm, beautiful!

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Pro-Ject

Pro-Ject had their new VCS record cleaner on display. Recently released, this offers full cleaning machine features for only £299, coming in cheaper than many other “industry favourite” machines around the £500 mark. They were also demonstrating the Pro-Ject range of “Box” components with Opera speakers and had various others on display, from the budget E to the S models to the mid-market DS models and high end RS range. Various other Pro-Ject turntables were on display including the new “Carbon” models and Xtension 9 Superpack in walnut (we recently installed one in white which looks particularly stunning!)

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QED

This was the best display we’ve seen yet at Bristol for the QED cable range, showing off the budget Profile, award winning Performance, mid-market Reference and high end Signature ranges, alongside their various speaker cables, including the hugely popular award winning XT40 for only £10 a metre.

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Q Acoustics

The award winning 3000 speaker range and Media M4 soundbar were on display, alongside Q Acoustics latest Q7000 2.1 system (not pictured but announced recently)

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Roksan

The new “Blak” amplifier and matching CD player were on display (we’re yet to hear these, but they will be available soon), alongside the stunning new Radius 7 turntable. The older model came with clear and black finish options, but the switch to a single glass finish by Roksan was a good choice as its never looked so stunning. This was on demo alongside the latest Kandy K3 range and Caspian range of hi-fi separates.

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Ruark Audio

Checkout this stunning arty R7 (sadly we wont be selling this but it is on show in a London art gallery) – the full range of Ruark radios were on display and on demo, sounding great as per usual.

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Sennheiser

Split into “For Sports” (showcasing their sports earphone range), “For Lifestyle” (showcasing the Momentum range) and “For everyday” (showcasing  the cheaper ranges), Sennheiser also had the Club Orpheus products on demo at the back of the stand, including the latest HD800S headphones, which have been incredibly popular so far and tricky to keep in stock, but at the time of writing this, several pairs have just arrived into stock!

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Tannoy

Tannoy were showing off their new budget Mercury 7 range, released to replace the original Mercury range, along with the Eclipse range. Also featured on stand were several of the Tannoy Prestige speakers.

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Unison Research

These rooms sounded fantastic. We don’t sell this brand yet, but perhaps we should based on what we heard at the show – what do you think?

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Wharfedale

Wharfedale’s parent company IAG were showing off a lot of new products from their brands including Audiolab and Quad (see above) and from Wharfedale, we had a sneak peek at their active wireless speakers. You may ask why the “wireless” element of these desktop speakers is separate and why they havent put it into the speakers – well, this itself is wireless to the speakers, meaning you can have the control unit anywhere in the room (next to your turntable or other music source perhaps?) while having the speakers on your desktop. Additionally, each speaker is powered (rather than having 1 active speaker and 1 passive speaker) and they come in a new leathurette finish that looks great. We understand these are a little far off currently but we can’t wait to try them again when fully released!

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Yamaha

Yamaha were showcasing their MusicCast range of multi room and bluetooth streaming products, alongside the YSP-5600SW (the worlds first Atmos soundbar) and other hi-fi products including the beautiful A-S2100 and CD-S2100 hi-fi separates, looking stunning as always with the retro design and front VU meters (the only amp to beat this in the Yamaha range is the beast A-S3000)

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That’s all for our wrap up on our highlights of the Bristol hi-fi show 2016, many of these highlighted products and new items are available to order now on our website www.audioaffair.co.uk – please add a comment below if you wish on this blog, the show or any of the new products.